The average E. coli O157:H7 victim without hospitalization will spend at least $1,000 in medical expenses and loose a week’s wages. For those hospitalized, medical bills can run from $10,000 to $100,000 in a very short time period. Those families whose children develop HUS, bills can push well into $1M depending on the severity of the illness. If the HUS is severe, future complications – including kidney transplant can add untold millions.

Nestle should step up now and pay E. coli 0157:H7 culture-positive victims’ medical bills and lost wages.

Without assistance in the form of monetary compensation for medical expenses and lost wages, many of the families with members in the hospital will face financial hardship in the coming months when the bills start coming in. Nestle should do the right thing and begin compensating victims of this outbreak for those most basic needs now. Of course, Nestles will still be responsible for the costs of long-term medical care for victims, but it is better to step up now.

This is not as odd as it might sound. Other companies like Dole, Odwalla, ConAgra and Jack in the Box willingly paid medical bills and wage loss when their products were identified as the source of E. coli outbreaks. Nestles knows it’s going to pay those medical expenses in the end in the form of a settlement or jury verdict. The question is, since they know their product was the cause of these illnesses, why wait?

In other news:

New York Times – Nestlé Cookie Dough Is Recalled

Bill Marler, a food-safety lawyer, scoffed at that statement.

“Those three words do not constitute an adequate warning,” Mr. Marler said, “and Nestlé should not be blaming their victims for doing what everyone in America does, and that is to eat and handle cookie dough before it’s cooked.”

Reuters – Raw Cookie Dough: So Tasty, So Dangerous

The outbreak "points to the need for better funding for health surveillance," said lawyer Bill Marler, who sues food companies for a living. Oddly quoting himself on his blog, Marler wrote that the " ‘fact that this outbreak was not detected until more than sixty people were ill in 28 states is precisely why we urgently need increased funding for the agencies responsible for public health,’ said Marler. ‘From the CDC to state and local health agencies, many dedicated people are working hard to protect consumers from tainted food, but they just don’t have enough resources to do the job we ask of them.

Washington Post – Nestlé Recall Leaves A Mystery in Its Wake

William Marler, a prominent food safety lawyer in Seattle who is representing six of the E. coli O157 victims, said Nestlé’s warning label is not a defense. "It doesn’t absolve them of liability," he said.

ABC – Nestle Voluntarily Recalls Raw Cookie Dough

Bill Marler, an attorney focused on food poisoning cases with the law firm Marler Clark, said he recently noticed that this season’s cases of E. coli did not look like others.

"Summer season is high season for E. coli cases — normally you’d expect them to be related to hamburger consumption," Marler told on Friday. "So we started tracking cases in May and June, and not very many of them had hamburger consumption."

Still, cookie dough "was certainly not on the list of things we’ve asked them," Marler said, adding that he is "surprised" the possible contamination may have occurred in such a "highly processed product."

"We’re now going back and getting all the health department records on the people who contacted us over the last three months to see if they match this outbreak," Marler said.